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[press release]

Hitting The Links With Two New Stamps

Click here for a larger version[Editor's note: This issue was not previously announced.]

When play begins on September 6, the best golfers in the world will take a swing at winning the most prestigious golf event in Canada. As they step to the tee, they will become part of a century old tradition... participating in a ritual that will leave some with the triumph of hitting the shot of a lifetime and others with only the memory of having played the game. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Open Golf Championship of Canada, Canada Post will issue two new 49 stamps on August 12, 2004.

In its 100-year history, the Open Golf Championship of Canada has shaped the face of professional golf in Canada. The greatest names have claimed the Open Golf Championship title including Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Greg Norman, and Tiger Woods. Karl Keffer was the sole Canadian-born golfer to win the Canadian Open - and he did so in both 1909 and 1914.

The Royal Canadian Golf Association (RCGA) notes that Canada is the birthplace of organized golf on this continent. The Royal Montreal Golf Club, founded in 1873, is the oldest in North America, and it was there that the first Canadian Open was held in 1904. The Club has hosted the tournament several more times, most recently in 2001.

Click here for a larger versionThe 2004 Open Championship of Canada will be held at the highly acclaimed Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario from September 6 - 12. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, Glen Abbey is one of Canada's most renowned public golf courses and has hosted the Open on 22 previous occasions (1977-1979; 1981-1996; 1998-2000).

The RCGA was formed in 1895 with the objective of staging golf tournaments in Canada. It held a variety of national events in its early years, including inter-provincial championships and a national tournament. These events, held primarily for amateurs, took place during the week of the RCGA's annual meeting. Hoping to make their tournaments more interesting, the RCGA established a committee in 1903 to come up with recommendations - and the Open Championship of Canada was created as a result.

The committee had suggested a 36-hole medal tournament with cash prizes, open to both amateurs and professionals. The first such event was held at the Royal Montreal Golf Club on July 2, 1904, the day after the Canadian Amateur. John Oke, golf pro at the Royal Ottawa Golf Club, won the gold medal and sixty dollars in cash.

Click here for a larger versionFor the first few years, the Open consisted of 36 holes of play over one day. It was changed to 72 holes over two days, and by the 1930s, the tournament expanded to three days, with 36 holes on the last day. The present format of 72 holes over four days was adopted in the 1950s. There were no sponsors or entry fees in the early years, but demands to compete with the prizes of other events brought the need for sponsors. Seagrams became the first sponsor in 1936, followed by du Maurier in 1971 and finally the current sponsor, Bell Canada, in 1994.

The game of golf was played in Scotland as early as the second half of the 15th century and Scottish emigrants took the game with them wherever they went. The 1873 founding of the Montreal Golf Club (the "Royal" prefix was added in 1889) was soon followed by the (Royal) Quebec Golf Club in 1874, and the Toronto Golf Club in 1876. By 1900, the sport was firmly established across the country and the first municipally-owned and operated course began operations in Edmonton in 1912.

The unique circular, golf-ball sized stamps showcase pictures of historic and contemporary tournaments. The stamps were designed by q30 design inc. of Toronto. Post offices across the country will also be selling a variety of related products and gifts including: playing cards, coasters (perfect for the 19th hole), a stamp and coin set and a limited edition Commemorative Frame that features the complete collection of stamps and coins.

Available for sale at post offices across the country on August 12, 2004, the stamps measure 43 mm in diameter and will be sold in a pane of eight with folder. Lowe-Martin printed 6 million of the self-adhesive stamps, using 8-colour lithography plus multi-level embossing and foil (one colour) on Fasson paper. The stamp is general tagged all around. The Official First Day Cover will read OAKVILLE ON.

Stamps and Official First Day covers will be available at participating post offices, can be ordered online by following the links at Canada Post's website www.canadapost.ca, or by mail order from the National Philatelic Centre. From Canada and the USA call toll-free: 1-800-565-4362 and from other countries call: (902) 863-6550.

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